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Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN AT Garden Theater

SNS brings monster hit back to life

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN AT  Garden Theater

IT IS ALIVE ... finally.

For the second time in a year, the Short North Stage is bringing Mel Brooks' comedic musical YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN back to life. The musical opened Oct. 7 and will run through Nov. 7 at the Garden Theater (1187 North High Street in downtown Columbus).

Short North Stage originally had the musical on tap for March and April 2021. After a successful opening weekend, the production was shelved by the COVID pandemic.

"I remember the day (we closed down) feeling disappointed and weird," said Edward Carignan, who directed both productions. "We were all ready for a full house that night and we had to cancel because of the Governor's mandate. At the time, we thought we would be returning the following weekend, but, as we all know, that did not happen.


"YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN was slated to be our most popular show to date, so we just had to bring it back this season."

Many actors remained from the derailed Spring production including the main stars Brooke Walters (who plays the voluptuous Inga), Nick Hardin (the less than voluptuous Frau Blucher), Luke Bovenizer (Victor Frankenstein), Adam Williams (the Monster) and Jordan Stocksdale (Inspector Kemp and the Hermit). Joe Gallagher, who was in the chorus last Spring, takes over the role of Igor. Rachel Courtney, Lauren Drexel, Jeff Fouch, Lisa Glover, Maddie Lego, Winonna Maddrey, and Chrissy Stridsberg all return as members of the chorus.

"About 60% of the cast returned, but we have plenty of new people who learned the show in just a two-week rehearsal period," Carignan said.

One of the newcomers is Michael Liebhauser, who takes over the lead role of Frederick Frankenstein. His character insists his name is pronounced "Frokensteen" to distance himself from his infamous grandfather, Dr. Frankenstein who created monsters in Transylvania.

Upon hearing of his grandfather's passing, Frederick leaves his work in academia and his frigid fiancée Elizabeth (Tess Marshall) in the United States to manage his grandfather's estate. However, once he arrives in Transylvania, the allure of Inga and the discovery of his grandfather's notes convinces him to stay.

Liebhauser navigates his way through the thicket of the double entendre, the Freuden slips, and the sight gags in Brooks' quirky script, which borrows heavily from the 1974 film. For example, when he first arrives at the castle with Igor and Inga, Frankenstein surveys the large brass rings on the front door and says "Wow. What a pair of knockers." Inga, believing the doctor is talking about her, purrs demurely "Why thank you, doctor." Liebhauser and Walters handle the not-so-subtle lyrics of songs like "Roll in the Hay."

Williams performs well as Frankenstein's monster, handling the transition from the monosyllabic moans to the "Puttin' on the Ritz" dance number to the articulate dialogue at the end of the show. In the opening night performance, understudy Cody Westbrook shined as the exceedingly odd Igor, who's ever rotating hunchback becomes one of the show's ongoing gags.

As Elizabeth, Marshall delivers a stirring ode to tortured celibacy, "Please Don't Touch Me There." Hardin revives his hilarious take as Frau Blucher and nails his spotlight song, "He Vas My Boyfriend," perfectly. Stockdale provides another one of the show's highlights playing two vastly different characters, Inspector Kemp and the Hermit.

Miguel Almanzar, Lincoln Belford, Vera Cremeans, Tessa Druhan, Hunter Minor, James Sargent, Jillian Savage, Alana Sayat, and Ethan Zink add sparkle as newcomers to the chorus.

Remaining shows for Short North Stage's production of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN include 7 p.m. shows on Oct. 14-16, 21-23, 28-30, and Nov. 4-6 at the Garden Theater (1187 North High Street in downtown Columbus). The theater also features 2 p.m. matinees on Oct. 16-17, 23-24 and 30-31 and Nov. 6-7. To assure a safe environment during the pandemic, the theater mandates that all patrons be masked during performances regardless of their vaccination status and provide proof of vaccination OR proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours for entry. For more information, visit ShortNorthStage.org or call 614-725-4042.




From This Author - Paul Batterson


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